Upscale Hotel Parq Central, along Historic Route 66, looks much as it did… (Jay Jones )
Albuquerque may not be L.A., but New Mexico's largest city is home to "Breaking Bad," the AMC series that is both shot and set here. It returns to the small screen Aug. 11. Plus Albuquerque Studios, where parts of "The Lone Ranger" were filmed recently and "The Avengers" was filmed a couple of years ago, is among the nation's biggest production facilities (not open to the public), so visitors can immerse themselves in this high-desert Hollywood. The tab: Airfare excluded, a two-night getaway will cost about $500, including lodging at Hotel Parq Central, a trolley tour for two and a meal at the restaurant that "Bad" fans know as Los Pollos Hermanos.
Some may find the acclaimed TV show's protagonist — chemistry teacher-turned-meth-maker Walter White (Bryan Cranston) — unstable, so checking in to the Parq Central (806 Central Ave. S.E.;  242-0040), a former mental hospital, seems an ideal fit. Built in 1926 along Route 66, the hotel looks much the same as it did when it housed patients. Guests who want to splurge can book a room in the former doctors quarters, a separate building with a shared living room where on-call physicians once lounged. In the warmer months, guests can enjoy drinks at the Apothecary Lounge on the rooftop patio.
Twisters is a burgers-and-burritos joint with locations throughout Albuquerque. But its location at 4257 Isleta Blvd. S.W. ( 877-2727) is recognizable to "Bad" viewers as the fictional Los Pollos Hermanos. (The sign created for the show proudly hangs inside.) The diner features New Mexican food such as its monster Twister Burrito ($8.99) topped with fries, red or green chile, cheese, lettuce and tomato. For dessert, try the churros ($1.59).
Get your bearings on the ABQ Trolley Co., ( 240-8000) city tour ($25). It hits production locations such as the old rail yard where parts of several movies, including this summer's "2 Guns," starring Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington, were shot. Die-hard "Bad" fans will want to take the extended 3 1/2-hour Bad Tour ($65). On your own, you can also check out filming locations such as Walter White's "home" (3828 Piermont Drive N.E.) and the Candy Lady (524 Romero St. N.W.,  243-6239), where the "crystal meth" used in the TV series is made. It's actually small pieces of rock candy that owner Debbie Ball sells in "dime bags" for a dollar.
The lesson learned
Remember that although Walter White's "home" is a popular stop for "Bad" fans, it's a private residence. Take your photos from the street.